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Musical conlangs

From:Adrian Morgan <morg0072@...>
Date:Wednesday, October 16, 2002, 13:17
The possibility of a true musical language occured to me a long time
ago, but I haven't known - and don't know - if it's really possible.
I can't prove that it isn't, though.

By "true musical language" I mean to imply far more than a code that
just happens to use notes as phonemes. A language where the word for
"thief" happens to be mi-fa-re-do, for example, and every word in the
lexicon has a similar mapping, is not a true musical language in this
sense. I have in mind a language where morphemes correspond to
collections of notes defined as obeying certain parameters, rather
than as following precise sequences.

These parameters would be flexible enough that any sentence could
actually be tuneful, with a skilled player being able to make a more
tuneful version of exactly the same sentence via ornamentations and so
on, without changing the meaning, or changing it only in subtle ways
such as emphasis. A study of music theory would be essential for
designing such a language.

I've had some ideas for a grammar:

Let's suppose that a "stressed beat" is one in which the left hand
plays a do-so cord (e.g. E and B if playing in the key of E), that a
stressed beat is usually the first beat of a bar, but that not every
first beat of a bar is stressed.

Then perhaps: Two quick identical notes on a stressed beat (OSB)
indicate the beginning of the subject phrase, two quick notes the
second a tone above the first OSB indicates the beginning of the verb
phrase, and two quick notes the second a tone below the first
indicates the beginning of the object phrase.

Or perhaps: If the second beat in a phrase is lower than the first
then this indicates the first person in some form, if the second beat
in a phrase contains two notes on either side of the notes on the
first beat then this indicates the second person, and if the second
beat in a phrase is higher than the first then this indicates a third
person or object.

Or perhaps: A verb can be made negative by delaying the first stress
in its object phrase until the the third beat, or using a dummy object
for object-less verbs.

Or perhaps: A return to the key note (do) OSB indicates a pronoun
similar to "it", referring to the object.

These are miscellaneous ideas, and I'm not convinced of the
possibility of such a project - you'd surely end up with morphemes
being very long if they're to be flexible. It's just that: if it
*could* be done, and could be done well, it would be a magnificent

It's just a thought, and I must rush and cannot stop to proofread and
tidy up this post, which has been written hastily.



bnathyuw <bnathyuw@...>
H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
Wesley Parish <wes.parish@...>